EmployMENTAL: Anxiety & The Workplace

Dealing with anxiety at work is admittedly one of my biggest challenges. Maybe because it is something that, over the years, I’ve hyped up in my head as being super stressful. Not that I think everyone else has it easy at work…because I’m over 1,001% sure I am not the only one plagued with this pesty problem, but it certainly has affected my life significantly.

One of the first non-seasonal “real” jobs I had was an Assistant Front of House Manager at a prominent performing arts center. I started out as an usher and then got promoted, mainly because my good friend was another assistant and I was one of the few employees to speak English. I guess that was good enough to qualify me for my first managerial position. Anyways….I had a hard time with it. Not because I wasn’t capable or confident leading others, but for other obscure reasons. Sometimes it would be that I was too nervous to ask back of house what the latecomer policy was and other times I would freak out over just the prospect of not finding somebodies seat.

The reason why I am bringing up this particular job is that it was during this time I was testing out different anti-depressants. More notably, it was the job that caused the Nurse Practitioner I was seeing to first prescribe me Xanax “as needed”. Looking back at it now, I wish I had never started taking Xanax  (more on that some other time). I also totally wish I was seeing a different NP. First of all, she started me out on an anti-depressant that did not even treat anxiety and instead of finding a substitution she would just keep prescribing more meds on top of it. Secondly, she instilled this notion in my head that I needed medication if I ever wanted to succeed professionally.

It’s a strange balancing act, being confident but also at the same time having crippling anxiety. It’s like some days I feel like I can take on the world and others leaving the house seems almost impossible. It has caused my work performance to be very uneven. And there have definitely been times where I self-sabotaged myself on the job purposely so I could try to outrun my nerves. I kept thinking that maybe if I found the right job my anxiety wouldn’t be able to find me.

Now that I am 30 and these emotions have been following me around for as long as I can remember… I am starting to realize I can’t escape them. I can’t just hop from job to job hoping that maybe this time everything will magically be perfect. I’ve often used anxiety as my crutch for failure, but in reality, I should know better than to rely on the very thing that knocks me down to help me walk. I am finally coming to the conclusion that these feelings aren’t a result of just circumstance and that it’s going to take a lot of commitment to overcome them.

For once, I am really trying. Its kind of a make it or break it moment in my life and I refuse to crack this time. As Eminem so eloquently puts it “Success is my only motherfuckin’ option, failures not”. I’m not going to lie, it has been really hard. Sometimes I feel so embarrassed and isolated by my own thoughts that all I want to do is hide under my desk. Sometimes I am so consumed by the fear of what my peers are thinking about me it makes it hard to focus on what I need to do. Luckily, strangers don’t give me anxiety! This makes meeting people and building early connections quite easy for me. Not to brag, but I am pretty personable. Now all I have got to do is figure out how to be that person more of the time. I’ll keep ya’ll posted on how that works out for me.

Til’ next time!

❤ Sweeney

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